ILO Caring Gold Mining Project engages in sub-regional networking and initiatives

UNCT-GH-ILO-Caring-Gold-Mining-Project-2017-2Woman involved in gold processing at Manso Nkran mining area, Ghana (Photo: Kwaku Treveh, ILO)

24 April 2017, Accra, Ghana

The Caring Gold Mining Project is an International Labour Organisation (ILO) focused project funded by the US Department of Labor (USDOL) with the goal “to convene stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to reduce Child Labour (CL) and improve Working Conditions (WL) in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM)”. It has four complementary objectives, to be pursued in parallel over a 40-month period (December 2015 to April 2019), in Ghana and the Philippines, and globally.

The objectives are:

  • Laws, policies, and action plans to address child labour and working conditions in ASGM are strengthened through dialogue and/or implemented;
  • Access of vulnerable households living in ASGM communities to social protection services and to improved livelihood programmes is increased;
  • Mechanisms to increase transparency and monitoring of child labour and working conditions in gold mining supply chains, particularly in ASGM, are developed and implemented;
  • Global networks to reduce child labour and improve working conditions in ASGM, in countries where ASGM is significant, are operational.

While the first three objectives are to be achieved through country-level action in Ghana and the Philippines, the last objective requires both country-specific and global action, including in other countries engaged in ASGM and with partners operating at supra-national, regional and global levels.

UNCT-GH-ILO-Caring-Gold-Mining-Project-2017-1Participants from Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ghana at the regional forum held in Ouagadougou in February 2017 (Photo: Kwaku Treveh, ILO)

The project participated in a three-day regional forum/workshop on “Reducing Mercury Use and release from Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in sub-Saharan Africa’’ in Ouagadougou in February 2017. The objective of the workshop was to bring together relevant ASGM stakeholder (ASGM operators, Regulators, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Environmentalists) from Ghana, Guinea, and Burkina Faso to discuss best practices in ASGM, including, but not limited to, reduction of mercury use, transparent and responsible supply chains, the Minamata Convention, development of National Action Plans, and investment and financing opportunities to support the development of a responsible ASGM sector in West Africa. The regional forum/workshop was organised by the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) with funding from the US Department of State (USDoS).

Among the issues discussed were strategies to engage ASGM communities, regions, countries and the West African sub-region as a whole through:

  • Education and awareness creation on the health and environmental effects of mercury;
  • Provision of effective, efficient and affordable mercury free technologies that would increase recoveries of miners and improve the environment;
  • Reward, recognition and promotion of visibility for those who use mercury free technologies to serve as good example for others to follow;
  • Stakeholders’ engagements to arrive at realistic and effective income and export tax along the supply chain (to be as low as practicable) for easy implementation;
  • Governments’ and development partners’ support for a sustainable investment model that would improve and increase the productivity of the miners.

Furthermore, participants were demonstrated the work flows of the mercury free technology as an alternative to existing ASGM processing methods (watch video by USDoS and AGC on Mercury free gold processing technology in Africa).

The project seized this opportunity to develop a network of relevant ASGM Stakeholders in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Guinea and created a sub-regional network of ASGM practioners to serve as a platform for sharing knowledge, experiences and good practices on mining, mineral processing, environmental management, child labour, working conditions, judicious and responsible mercury use, implementation of the Minamata convention and ways to promote mercury free technologies in ASGM.

Earlier in February 2017, the Project also participated in an inception workshop organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana in Accra, on both Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) and the National Action Plan (NAP) of the Minamata Convention which Ghana was in the process of ratifying. This was subsequently followed up by a 4-day training in inventory of mercury use in ASGM in Ghana in Tarkwa in March 2017.

Ghana finally ratified the Minamata Convention by depositing the signed document at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in March 2017. The project is highly privileged to be associated with the ratification process of Ghana and to prepare the ground for its implementation.